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256             .            BYZANTINE CHURCHES                       CHAP.
the Empress Theodora, wife of the Emperor Theophlius, and proved a loyal and devoted servant of the imperial family. Twice at the peril of his own life he saved the emperor from capture, if not from death, during the wars with the Saracens. Nevertheless, being accused of treason he fled to the court of Baghdad and took service under the Caliph Mutasim, until assured that Constantinople would welcome him back.
He was one of the three counsellors appointed by Theophilus to assist Theodora during the minority of Michael III., and so highly was he esteemed., that he was acclaimed emperor by the populace in the Hippodrome, and might have worn the crown but for his fidelity to the little prince. Silencing the shouts raised in his favour, he exclaimed, c You have an emperor ; my duty and highest honour is to defend his infancy and to secure for him, even at the price of my blood, the heritage of his father.' In the iconoclastic controversy Manuel supported the policy of Theophilus, and therefore found himself in a difficult position when Theodora decided to restore the use of eikons. The story is, that while he lay dangerously ill at the time, monks of the Studion assured him that recovery was certain if he vowed to uphold the orthodox cause. The vow was taken, and upon his restoration to health Manuel favoured the measures of Theodora. Probably he felt that the current of public feeling on the subject was too strong for him to oppose. But the task of working in harmony with his colleagues in the regency, Theoctistus and Bardas, was soon found impossible, and rumours of a plot to blind him and remove him from the administration of affairs led him to retire to his house near the cistern of Aspar. For some time, indeed, he continued to appear occasionally at the palace, but at last he quitted for ever that scene of intrigue, and converted his residence into a monastery, where he might spend the closing days of his life in peace and finally be laid in a quiet grave,1
1 There is some uncertainty as to the identity of Manuel. Some authorities distinguish Manuel the general from Manuel the uncle of Theodora, on the ground that the former is said to have died of wounds received in battle during1